Monday, September 15, 2014

Doing the Business in Blackpool

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It was quite a week standing on my feet: two closing speeches at Esomar, the world research conference in Nice, and in Paris for an alumni event at the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools Insead, followed on Friday night being ringmaster for the Be Inspired Business Awards staged by the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and rigorously supported by the Lancaster University Management School where I am Honorary Professor of Creative Leadership.

It was a home turf event though I did underestimate my “sure I’ll help out” offer. This was no walk in the park: 1,000 passionate people in the audience, a stage in the round, almost three hours on show, over 140 finalists from 1,231 entries and 19 award winners. Phew!

The North West is a proud region full of enterprising businesses and exporters. Among my favorite winners were:
  • Chelsom of Blackpool who won both Creative Business of the Year and Exporter of the Year – since 1947 Chelsom has designed and created quality decorative hotel lighting, cruise ship lighting and lighting for commercial contracts worldwide (if you’ve been to Ian Schrager’s Berners Tavern you’ll know the sort of ambience they create);
  • Business Woman of the Year: Janet Thornton, Inspired Energy (Kirkham), the fastest growing energy consultancy in the UK with over 1500 clients and over 7.6 billion kWh managed annually.
  • The Foxton Centre (Preston) who won Most Inspiring Business of the Year. They have been working with rough sleepers, street sex workers, young people, people with alcohol abuse issues and other people in the community who need our support for over 40 years.
  • Lancastrian of the Year: Eric Wright, Eric Wright Group (Bamber Bridge), a leader within the building industry with services from construction and civil engineering, to property development and facilities management.
See write-ups of the event by Norman Tenray and Simon Dalley.

Take it away North West!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Neat in Nice

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In Nice yesterday for the ESOMAR conference (the European Society for Opinion and Market Research) speaking about “Winning in the Age of Now.” Closing keynote to 1,000 of the planet’s top market researchers. Lots of warmth, fun and camaraderie. See seven minute interview here.

Released a Saatchi & Saatchi ‘Red Paper’ Brand Loyalty Reloaded. The subject of Brand Loyalty is much debated in this fast-moving digital world. Is it still relevant? What is the 2015 equilibrium between retention and acquisition? Is Brand Loyalty still achievable? If so, how? This 11,000 word ‘Red Paper’ makes the case that the economics of Brand Loyalty are as compelling as ever, and that declining loyalty levels are attributable in part to the failure to meet the rising emotional needs of consumers. In the Red Paper you will find why: Big Data needs Big Love; Emotion is the driver of sales; Loyalty is a two-way street; Creativity is a catalyst for loyalty.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Heinz Ketchup – It’s Irresistible

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Heinz has the number 1 or 2 market share in more than 50 countries, and is in Forbes top 100 World’s Most Valuable Brands. People love Heinz so much they simply demand to see it in the iconic bottle. Some restaurants have said it actually costs more to serve the ketchup in the bottle, instead of from their bulk purchase, but they do it anyway because people love Heinz.

One of Malcolm Gladwell’s reasons for why people love Heinz so much is that they like the familiar. He uses the example of a child trying a new food, like tuna or Brussels sprouts, and wanting to alter the food to make the unfamiliar familiar. People don’t just like the taste of the ketchup, they like knowing Heinz ketchup will always taste good, even if the other things on their plate don’t.

So why, after 138 years, when almost every food has been revamped, has no other ketchup competitor even come close to Heinz’s success, even given the emergence of better tasting ketchups, according to taste tests? The New Yorker argues that Heinz is “irreplaceable,” words that will warm the hearts of new owners Warren Buffet and Brazilian hedge fund 3G. But the answer is more than that. “Ketchup is magic. And Heinz is its magic brand.” The relationships Heinz has built with their customers have been grown through generations (and a good appreciation of bottle and label design). Customers from all corners of the world love the brand, and that love makes Heinz irresistible.

p.s. My personal favourite is HP brown sauce. On breakfast sausages, on bacon sandwiches, on cheddar cheese. For all the reasons we love Heinz….But you had to be there!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Quiet Weekend Away… In Space

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A trip to space is the stuff of dreams, and it’s getting closer for the average Joe and Josephine. NASA isn’t the only show in town in the Age of Now. Industry has got a whiff of the potential and is accelerating the development of new technology that is going to make casual space travel a reality. The space initiatives of Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos are well mapped. Out on the edge in New Zealand. Peter Beck, founder of Rocket Lab, has unveiled a 10-tonne rocket that is capable of sending satellites to space for less than $6 million. The current cost of sending a satellite into space is about $155 million. Jeff Greason, founder and CEO of private space company XCOR, says: "I'm in the private space business because I don't feel like waiting 20 years for something to happen. So I'm focused on what can we start doing right now."

NASA remains on the curve of creativity. In the article NASA Is Betting on These Five Extraordinary Ideas by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on Gizmodo maps the work of NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts Program which selects concepts from researchers and universities and independent companies that should receive backing from NASA. It has just released the names of its next five Big Ideas.

A Mothership That Deploys Hedgehog Rovers to help NASA explore small solar system bodies, for example a small planet, moon, or even asteroid.

Orbiting Rainbows to build a massive optical system in space using huge clouds of dust particles so that NASA could see distant objects in space at a high resolution.

A Telescope Carried By A Sub-Orbital Balloon to launch balloons more than 30 feet wide into sub-orbit which would act as a reflector for the telescope inside, making it easier to image objects in space.

Looking Inside Asteroids Using Subatomic Particles. You could use this technology to, say, learn more about what minerals are inside an asteroid for potential mining purposes. Or, it could give scientists a clear picture of the size and makeup of an object that might be on a collision course for Earth, helping to generate a strategy to knock it off course.

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Right now there are companies looking into space hotels for tourists. Can you imagine settling in with a Bordeaux and taking in the view? Could I do this? It would be unforgettable, no matter the tolerance exigencies. It’s the mystery of space that enthrals us. It grips us. So few have been there and those that have spent years training for it. We seek it because it’s so exclusive. So hard to fathom. So unattainable.

If space suddenly became attainable, would space lose its appeal? No way. There will always be further to go. More to explore. The possibilities are endless. I say light it up.

Monday, September 8, 2014

No Ceiling for Simon Rogan

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I have celebrated the virtues of chef Simon Rogan for years to anyone who would listen. His food is truly astonishing. Divinity on a crisp white plate. Back in 2008, I wrote on this blog that his restaurant L’Enclume in seductive Cartmel was about to take the world by storm. It now has two Michelin Stars and was rated second to Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck in last year’s Good Food Guide.

This has all led to the opening of Fera, Simon’s new restaurant in London’s most glamorous institution, Claridges. On the menu are dishes such as plaice braised in nettle butter, dry-aged Herdwick hogget, pickled tongue, hen of the woods, turnips and alexanders.

There is arguably no greater stage at Claridges from which he can offer his cooking. If you want to get a feel for what has driven him, then read this article on His attention to detail and quest for perfection is unwavering. Save up for this experience.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Willow Meet Leather

Prior to the American Civil War, the glorious game that is cricket had a decent foothold in the yet to be United States. It is logical really, given we English never left our beloved sport behind no matter where the ship was destined. Apparently, after a good 300 years of baseball dominance, cricket is starting to make a comeback.

The credit is largely due to the burgeoning Indian population, along with a decent splash of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis and the ever-present Caribbean influence. The Atlantic reports that there is rumored to be 30 million cricket fans in the US today. It’s an official high school sport in New York City. ESPN now live streams Indian Premier League matches and has owned the Cricinfo website for some time.

We are yet to sight the beginnings of a national team, but give it five years. There is plenty of talent in the US. Combine that with a hint of bravado and natural confidence and maybe, just maybe, I will live to see an American team grace the hallowed turf at Lord’s. Nothing Is impossible.